• Kevin Roeckl

Moto and Candy portrait in progress 13

What do you see in all the complex shapes on Moto’s shoulder and chest in this reference photo? How do you capture the form and musculature of the dog’s shoulder… it’s all just abstract shapes!

Reference photo of red Doberman
Photo by Rita Kay Adams

I start by filling in the dark (shadowed) shapes of the forms with my darkest brown (almost black) pencil. I just copy the darkest abstract shapes that I see in the photo on the monitor…just follow what I see there in the photo. I also understand canine anatomy, so I can make sense mentally of what I’m looking at: bone structure, muscle.

Colored pencil portrait of black Doberman and red Doberman, in progress in Kevin's studio, with colored pencils and reference photo on the monitor

Once I get those dark areas in for guidance, I start filling in the areas between them… just following what I see in the photo. Here I’m filling in the warm browns at the top of his shoulder. The pencils show the greys and browns I’m using.

Close-up of colored pencil portrait of red Doberman in progress, with colored pencils

Then I just keep working my way along. Filling in the gaps, following the lights and darks of the abstract shapes on the monitor.

Colored pencil portrait of black Doberman and red Doberman in progress in Kevin's studio, with colored pencils and reference photo

The lightest forms in those abstract shapes require a different set of pencil colors. In the next picture, I’ve started laying in the lightest places on those abstract shapes - the front of Moto’s chest where the light is hitting….with beige and pale greys. (Did you think there was beige and pale grey in a red Doberman’s coat?)


The pencils I’m using are on the sheet of white paper. The ones I’m using at that moment are pulled from the right, I’m right-handed so that’s where they are quickest to grab. The ones toward the left - the golds and oranges - will be used for the rust markings on Moto’s chest tomorrow. So all those colors on the right half of the sheet are going into the “red” part of Moto’s coat on his chest.

Close-up of colored pencil portrait of black Doberman and red Doberman in progress, with colored pencils

This is what it looks like as I’m working. Pencil sharpener to the right. Drafting brush for brushing off loose pencil dust almost out of the picture on the left. Computer mouse and keyboard if I need to move the photo around on the monitor or zoom in/out.


This is where I’m going to quit for the day. I thought I might finish Moto’s entire chest in one day, but to do it justice I’ll start fresh tomorrow. All that’s left to do is the front of his chest and rust markings, fading out toward the bottom of the portrait. And one little patch to fill in on his side. The quick repetitious movement of doing hundreds of hairs with pencil dashes and blending them into a smooth Doberman coat, is tiring on my hand and wrist after a couple of hours.

Photo showing Kevin's art studio set-up, with portrait of black Doberman and red Doberman in progress

A close-up of the actual artwork, scanned. You can some of the many shades of brown and grey that go into making up Moto’s coat color. And you can see how I fade his body out to the grey paper on the lower right, with progressively lighter and grayer (not brown) pencils.

Close-up of colored pencil portrait of red Doberman, in progress

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